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Thread: Some Spanish Piano Music

  1. #1
    Captain of Water Music
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Some Spanish Piano Music

    I dithered over this set for a while. I wanted to hear Michel Block’s take on Iberia, but I didn’t know for sure that he was the one playing the work. I saw no need to get Aldo Ciccolini in this work in this box since his set is available on its own, and I had no idea who Gonzalo Soriano or Teresa Llacuna were. Once I determined that it was Michel Block playing Iberia, I took the (cheap) plunge.

    My expectations for Block’s Iberia were mostly fulfilled. As I expected based on some of his later Pro Piano recordings, Block plays with almost limitless flexibility and nuance – in all aspects. He tinkers with tempo and rhythm, dynamics, texture, color – everything – but in a most fluid and engaging and mostly self-effacing way. A few of the individual pieces seem a bit heavy and slow at times – though even then the playing is irresistible – but Block merely uses such a ploy to maximize contrasts within the various pieces. His variety and touch and nuance are simply wonderful. My preferred Iberia remains Esteban Sanchez’s version, but this makes a nice addition to my collection indeed!

    The rest of the set just came along for the ride. Fortunately, some of it is of a satisfyingly high order. Aldo Ciccolini plays Enrique Granados’ Goyescas and does a generally fine job of it. I prefer his take to Alicia De Larrocha’s take on RCA, which just doesn’t click for me. (I have Michel Block’s Pro Piano recording of the same work on its way to me right now; I have high hopes.) The real find for me in this set is Gonzalo Soriano, who takes up much of the rest of the set, playing some Albeniz, Granados, and Falla. His tonal range isn’t the broadest I’ve heard, but his rhythmic control and subtlety and superb control of dynamics make me want to hear more from him. He’s got a swagger and panache that I find quite appealing. Okay, his Noches en los Jardines de España isn’t the best I’ve heard, but only that extraordinary team of Walter Gieseking and Kurt Schröder make this work really click for me. Alas, Teresa Llacuna’s contribution to the set isn’t so great. She plays a selection of works by Manuel de Falla and mostly just bangs away at the keyboard, with little in the way of nuance, grace, or even clarity. It was a chore to sit through her portion of the set. She even manages to make Fantasia Baetica sound unpleasant. Next to Esteban Sanchez’s remarkable recording of that (and other Falla works), she sounds like an amateur.

    The sound is as good as can be given the age of the recordings; the Soriano recordings are mostly from the 50s, the others from the 60s and 70s. For some reason, the set was mastered in HDCD, so if you have a player that decodes HDCD you’ll hear even more.

    So, come for the Block, stay for the Soriano. A fine set.

    The universe is change, life is opinion. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

  2. #2
    Midshipman, Forte
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Have you heard Alicia de Laroccha play? And Rubinstein's a spicy player of Spanish music too!

  3. #3
    Captain of Water Music
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Phillip Wilcher View Post
    Have you heard Alicia de Laroccha play?

    I refer to her Granados in the above post, and I have her Hispavox (2nd) recording of Iberia. I prefer both Sanchez and Block.

    The universe is change, life is opinion. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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